You'll find a version of this creamy drink throughout the islands but with subtle differences, as you move your way across the Caribbean (and Central America). Rich in milk, a layer of sweetness, some spice and how could one not include rum. Crémas (Kremas or Cremasse) is one of those drinks every Haitian (grown) expects to be served during the holiday season. And while you'll find subtle differences in everyone's recipe, this one is as simple to prepare while maintaining the taste and flavors of the traditional version.
In this the final smoothie in our "Week of Smoothies", I thought I'd round off things with one that's not only very simple to make, but it mimics a popular drink we enjoy in the Caribbean, Carrot Punch! With orange juice and diced apples, it's packed with health benefits and so refreshing. While smoothies are not something we traditionally make in the Caribbean (as I've mentioned before), you'll find that it's becoming very popular the past few years. And while we normally reach for tropical fruits, apples are widely available - to be honest I've had better apples in the Caribbean (imported) than in Canada.
If you've been keeping score you'll realize that we're up to day 4 or simply the 4th smoothie recipe is this the first annual Week Of Smoothies at CaribbeanPot.com. While you won't automatically associate Kale and Cantaloupe with the Caribbean, the last few times I was down on the islands I saw them both readily available. I assume the same way we can get any tropical fruits and vegetables in North America, you're seeing the reverse on the islands. Luv it!
We always looked forward to watermelon season when I was a kid growing up on the islands, but having the patience to not prematurely pick the massive melons dad grew in his garden wasn't the easiest thing for a kid. Pops has his own technique for telling when the watermelons are perfectly red inside and while he never passed that tip on to me, I do get a chuckle when I see people tapping, scrutinizing, holding them up to the light and do other weird things to them at the grocery store. My tip.. go to where they have the cut slices for sale and if they are red and look perfect, chances are the whole ones on sale will be good. After-all, that's where that cut piece came from.
As we continue with this week of smoothies, it's time to use a very common but ignored Caribbean (tropical) fruit, Jackfruit. A sweet (like refined sugar) tasting fruit, with a sort of custard-like texture, but the scent can be a bit overpowering when it's fully ripe. We had just driven through Fern Gully, Jamaica and had stopped for 'refreshments' at a road-side bar, when I gazed on a Jackfruit tree on the side of the building laden with some of the largest fruits I've ever seen. It's funny how whenever I think about Jackfuit, it takes me back to that Jamaican trip and the roadside bar where I enjoyed some of the most refreshing Guinness I've ever had.
When I was a kid on the islands smoothies wasn't a 'thing", however we did have 'punches'! With milk (in most cases) as it's base, they included many of the exotic tropical fruits we are blessed with in the Caribbean. Today you can still see many punch vendors (known as the "punch-man") in all the major cities and towns, but smoothies are just as common and many people include them as part of their daily breakfast or workout regime.
Sorrel and homemade ginger-beer are two drinks you're guaranteed to find being enjoyed in just about every Caribbean home you visit during the Christmas season. Even after we moved to Canada, it was our yearly tradition to source out a grocery store which stocked the dried petals of sorrel or have relatives who would be visiting stock their suitcases with a package or two on their way up. The odd time we could get the fresh flowers, it was a welcomed bonus (like finding buried treasure). It's funny how after so many years of using the dried stuff, you almost prefer it to the fresh ones now.
Though not necessarily a "Caribbean" thing when I was a young fella' on the islands, smoothies are making it's way across the island chain as more and more people are looking for healthy ways to start their day, especially with the abundance of fresh tropical fruits we have available to us. Back then, you'd quicker find freshly made juices and punches with the same fruits, so I must confess that I'm not a huge fan of smoothies (it just wasn't part of my diet). This mango raspberry smoothie only takes a couple minutes to make, quite refreshing and a wonderful meal in a glass.
We always seemed to have had Papaya (say paw paw or paw poi in Trinidad and Tobago) trees in our yard as kids growing up on the islands, so this punch (or call it a smoothie) as well as ice cream was always in the fridge. I still recall getting in trouble with my dad for cutting the leaves (with long stems) off the tree as we would make a sort of cave-man flute or whistle with it. In the process of breaking the leaves off, my brother and I would knock the baby Papaya off the tree and the odd time we would even knock off the more mature fruits.. yea, we didn't care as all we wanted were the stems/leaves.
I still recall mom always asking me to go get a piece of fever grass (lemon grass) from the old wash-tub she converted into a gardening pot, where we had a huge patch of lemon grass growing for as long as I could remember. In the dry season they would dry-down with a mound of dirt where the roots were , but with the first drizzle of the rainy season they would be back with vigorous life. It was my job whenever someone had the onset of a fever (high temperature) to go harvest the 'fever grass' so mom could make a pot of tea. Yes, lemongrass tea is used as a remedy for fevers in most of the Caribbean... and it works.